We live in a region with mountains and hillsides so building a custom home on a hill isn’t out of the question.
Building our homes on those hills give us an unparalleled viewpoint to look out from, often with beautiful vistas.
Not the first, but maybe the most famous house on a hillside is Frank Lloyd Wright’s design of a home named Falling Water, for the Kaufmann family. Precariously balanced on a hillside in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, it is not only on the hill, but is built directly over a waterfall.
We don’t all have waterfalls in our backyards, but we still may be able to take advantage of what geographical opportunities our properties afford us.
Here Are Five Things to Consider When Building YOUR Custom Home on a Hill
1) FLOOR PLAN
- Think like Mr. Wright did and consider making your home part of the land, not just built on it. Set your home into the landscape to take best advantage of its properties.
- Include your living space, where you spend most your time, on the highest level to take best advantage of the views.
- Consider a roof top patio. Typically houses on hills are built with a flat roof to take advantage of the highest allowed building heights by city regulations; leaving the roof a great place for a patio or a green roof.
- Incorporate a walk-out basement.
- A raised concrete foundation will allow for a crawl space underneath that can be good for storage.
- Engage a structural engineer. When working with a design and build team, they will bring the required professionals to the table.
- If your budget allows, consider an infinity pool.
2) ACCESS TO YOUR HILLSIDE HOME
- Allow for access from street, driveway level, to back of property. This ensures day to day activity will flow, and any future plans for building or modifying in and around your property will be easily achieved without the use of heavy equipment like cranes.
3) THE LOGISTICS OF CONSTRUCTION FOR A CUSTOM HOME ON A HILL
- You will require a geotechnical soil boring report.
- Also s determination of the depth of your surrounding water table and bedrock.
- Drainage for runoff water (away from house and away from neighboring properties).
- Access to utilities on site (main sewer, electrical and gas).
These items will be researched with the guidance of your design and build team.
4) EXTERIOR FINISHES FOR YOUR HOME
- With being on a hillside the exterior of your home is more exposed to the elements, so consider exterior cladding material and its rating regarding wind forces.
- You will want to provide exterior protection, such as protected balconies or porches, since you may experience more elements with the larger exposed exterior façade.
5) COSTS RELATED TO YOUR CUSTOM HOME
- Costs will be more than a typical flat lot as the foundation alone is more complicated with driven piles required for structure.
- Driving piles into bedrock will cost more but will increase building strength. This is especially important in earthquake zones such as BC.
Your Design and Build Team Will Take You Through the Process
Talk to your design and build partner. They will walk you through the whole process from start to finished home. It begins with a visit to City Hall to determine regulations and restrictions (size, height etc). Gathering geotechnical and structural information is next, talking about the budget, and then the best part … you can discuss your wish list for your new home.
Nisha MacNeil is the lead custom home designer at Kerr Construction, award winning renovation company and custom home builder in Vancouver.
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Kerr Construction.